Taylor Fritz vs. Roberto Bautista-Agut Preview: Australian Open Round 3 Odds, Picks, Prediction & How to Watch
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Fritz
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Roberto Bautista-Agut vs. Taylor Fritz
|Time | TV||Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET* | ESPN+|
|Odds via Caesars. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.|
Over in Stefanos Tsitsipas’s quarter, the possibilities are really endless. One could make a case for five men — including Roberto Bautista-Agut and Taylor Fritz — reaching the semifinals in Melbourne. With those two squaring off on Friday night, the list will become shorter, but one will move closer to a first-ever Grand Slam semifinals. Who’ll it be? Let’s talk about it.
How Much Does RBA Have Left in the Tank?
Now 33, the world-class groundstroker known as Roberto Bautista-Agut is on the back-end of his career. The World No. 18 continues to win matches, but 2021 saw him lose some which you wouldn’t expect. All in all, RBA finished 29-25 across all levels — a poor record for his standards — and had some bad losses to the likes of Pedro Martinez, Henri Laaksonen (at the French Open), Radu Albot (at the Australian Open) and Alejando Davidovich-Fokina.
These are blemishes we rarely saw just two years ago for the former Wimbledon semifinalist.
Bautista-Agut is still capable of outlasting his opponents in marathon points, but against the world’s top talent he isn’t quite what he once was. That’s why I’m ultimately throwing out his 5-1 career record over Fritz. The two have done battle six times from 2016 to 2021, with the American taking just one affair, which came on the clay in Lyon. Bautista Agut won their only meeting last year, which was 6-2, 7-5 on the clay at the Monte Carlo Masters.
RBA comes into this one off one of the easiest wins you’ll ever see over Phillipp Kohlschreiber, who’s near retirement. Prior to that, he did struggle to pull away from World No. 98 Stefano Travaglia in the first round, needing four sets to get it done.
Taylor Fritz Is Rising Fast
If you haven’t followed tennis since last year’s US Open, you have a lot to catch up on here. Out of seemingly nowhere, this talented young American went on an absolute tear, going to the semifinals at Indian Wells, the final in St. Petersburg and the quarters in Paris, where he fell to Novak Djokovic. He elevated his level significantly, skyrocketing to No. 22 in the world and tapping into some of that potential he has with his incredible raw talent.
You may think you have this guy pegged at 24-years-old, but this Fritz is unrecognizable from the one we saw early last summer. His competition and intensity has relentless, and he’s learned how to hang around against guys who make him play a lot of balls. His power serve and forehand have been landing a lot more, and with weapons like those it’s easy to see why he might wind up on the cusp of the top 10 by season’s end.
Fritz has started the year 4-1, laying waste to two top-15 players at the ATP Cup in Felix Auger-Aliassime and Cam Norrie then running through his friend Frances Tiafoe in the second round for a second consecutive straight-set victory. He was broken serving for that match, but he again showed his newfound toughness and came through the third set in a tiebreak.
I alluded to my stance earlier, but I think Fritz is simply the better player at this point in time. In all of the previous encounters between the two, Fritz was not near the same competitor, and he’s learned how to stay patient in rallies and pull the trigger at the right time. That’s an incredibly valuable skill when you’re facing Bautista-Agut, one of the best players in the world of getting balls back into play and lulling you to sleep with long rallies.
Unlike years’ past, I think Fritz will welcome the chance to sit back on the baseline and play some of these points. He’s a ton more creative and should manage to pull this one out in as little as four sets. He can overpower Bautista-Agut and showcase shot-making abilities that the Spaniard simply doesn’t have. In this case, talent will beat hard work because the talent’s learned to work hard.
Pick: Fritz -105
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